Industry icon Frank Herhold, who was president of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida for 20 years from 1990 to 2010, died Saturday in Fort Lauderdale. He was 76.
Herhold’s sister and nephew were among hundreds who posted tributes on his Facebook page. Many referred to Herhold as a mentor, someone deeply committed to the boating industry and his community, and above all, his family and friends.
“I am so saddened by this news,” NMMA export director Julie Balzano said in an email from Cuba. “Frank was a mentor to me and such an important person in our industry.”
Several in the industry said on social media that they were shocked by Herhold’s death. He had attended the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, which ran Nov. 5-9.
He also recently attended an Intracoastal Waterway dredging press conference, an endeavor he had supported during the last dozen years and a mark of his continued advocacy for boating issues after leaving his post as MIASF president.
"I can’t think of a single significant moment in my career, both through the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and Ward’s Marine Electric, that Frank wasn’t a part of,” said Kristina Hebert, past president of MIASF, COO of Ward’s Electric and fellow advocate for the boating industry locally and nationally.
“He introduced and inspired me to participate in the legislative process locally, statewide and federally,” Hebert told Trade Only Today. “Frank was my mentor as a board director and even as the president, always making sure I was listening and leading to the best of my abilities. That said, family always came first for Frank. His family, and especially grandkids, were everything. He never once had a conversation with me that did not include asking me how my kids were, as well. I feel very lucky to have worked with him for so many years and will cherish every minute."
During Herhold’s 20-year tenure as MIASF president, membership more than doubled, to about 800 members. He led the MIASF through challenges that included the luxury tax of the early 1990s, manatee and environmental regulations, longshore insurance reform and the evolutionary growth of the MIASF-owned Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Herhold belonged to several community organizations and sat on a number of boards, including the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, Broward Alliance, Winterfest and Riverwalk. He represented MIASF interests with such groups as the Coast Guard Harbor Safety Committee, Coast Guard Area Maritime Security Committee and the U.S. Superyacht Association.
“Our community agenda has gone well beyond 33 years of waterway cleanup and 14 years of the Plywood Regatta kids’ boatbuilding contest, and today MIASF and our members are active participants in virtually any activity or event even remotely connected with the water,” Herhold told Soundings Trade Only in a 2010 Q&A. “The community agenda focuses on ensuring that our marine industry and MIASF are always seen as good corporate citizens of the community, and members enjoy the opportunity to meet with others outside the industry for the benefit of their marine businesses.”
Prior to coming to Fort Lauderdale, Herhold owned and operated the Anchorage Eau Gallie Marina in Melbourne, Fla., a full-service marina and a major dealer for Chris-Craft and Boston Whaler. Herhold earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Monmouth (Ill.) College.
He lived in the Idlewild area of Fort Lauderdale, just off the ICW and across from Bahia Mar, with his wife, Mary Jo. They have one daughter and two grandchildren.
The Sun-Sentinel published an obituary Monday evening, but the cause of death was not listed.
Services will be at 10 a.m. Friday at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Fort Lauderdale, Hebert said.
“Frank was the consummate gentleman,” Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, said in an email. “Always pleasant. Always upbeat and cheerful.”
“Frank was a ‘can do’ guy,” Dammrich said. “He was a strong leader of MIASF and very effective at bringing people together to work collectively on challenges facing his membership and our industry. That his involvement in the Fort Lauderdale community went well beyond his responsibilities with MIASF is a tribute to the kind of person he was — caring, committed and giving. Frank touched and improved the lives of many people and his loss is deeply felt.”